Jamesdeluxe’s Highlights 09/10

65-hour work weeks, very little flexibility for time off, and a four-year-old at home aren’t a good recipe for any skier, especially one based a half hour west of New York City. Still, I made it to 28 days, and while none fell into the “best-ever” category, there were lots of great moments that’ll stick in my mind until next winter.

Winter Park/Mary Jane, CO: 12/14/09

Deluxe Tracks on Milligan's Mile

Due to uncooperative weather in the East, my first ski day didn’t come until a mid-December trip to Colorado. I’d always heard divergent opinions on this sprawling ski area and was lucky to go there after an overnight storm dropped a foot of snow. The Winter Park side is a series of ridgelines with long runouts and oddly-placed lifts, but by poaching closed trails, I scored plenty of untracked, calf-deep powder.

Telegirl on Golden Spike

Late morning, I moved over to far more interesting Mary Jane next door, which lived up to its reputation of consistently-pitched fall-line skiing. Since it was so early in the season, my 1,800-vert laps were on soft baby bumps from top to bottom — as opposed to the minivan-size that they undoubtedly become after more snow and traffic.

Belleayre Mountain, NY: 1/16/10

Everyone likes to show their home hill to a newcomer, and for Belleayre’s annual press day, I brought Harv for his first turns in the western Catskills. He had a great time meeting loquacious superintendent Tony Lanza, but the day’s highlight was unquestionably the Belleayre Beast.

The BEAST<

A smoke-belching military assault vehicle posing as a snowcat, the Beast brought us to the Cathedral Brook trail — a narrow, rolling East-Coast classic with beautifully edgeable cover despite the fact that only 48 inches of natural snow had fallen by that point in the season. After two runs there, we spent the rest of the afternoon getting schooled in the bumps by snow-sports director Don Boyce.

Don Boyce on Cathedral Brook

Mont Sutton, QC: 2/8/10

I’ll never understand why more American skiers don’t visit Quebec’s Eastern Townships: a really unique region with well-maintained New England architecture, quaint towns, French-Canadian culture, and skiing that often compares favorably with Vermont. Moreover, it’s only a short drive over the border.

Anglican Church in Austin, Quebec

In the 15 or so days I’ve skied over the years at Sutton, I’ve always gotten lucky with snow, and this trip was no exception. On the night of my arrival, a two-inch forecast grew into a foot by the next morning, and it kept on snowing through the early afternoon.

Powder Bumps in the Caprice Glade

In addition to scoring soft, knee-deep turns in Sutton’s artfully pruned glades, Director of Operations Luc Boulanger gave me a three-hour tutorial on how his team maintains the trees in the mountain’s extensive “sous bois” network.

Luc Boulanger points out the

We finished the day with an incredible fondue dinner at the Bromont resort. Cuisine is a huge upside to any Quebec ski trip.

Mont Édouard, QC: 3/25/10

Whereas the Eastern Townships are all about cute villages intimately set amongst lakes, hills, and mountains, our six-day ski safari north of Quebec City was always paralleled by the vast expanses of the Charlevoix region on one side and stunning views of the Saint Lawrence River on the other. After a while, I gave up trying to take representative photos:

River Views from Le Massif de Charlevoix

View from Manoir Richelieu

Every stop on this trip was memorable for Quebec’s combination of great skiing, excellent food, and fascinating culture, but the best weather and conditions were at surprisingly entertaining Mont Édouard in the Saguenay region. Bluebird skies, perfect temps halfway between winter and spring, and beautiful snow both on-piste and off were just what we needed after two flat-light storm days.

La Baieriveraine

 

2 comments on “Jamesdeluxe’s Highlights 09/10

  1. James… would be curious to know what days constitute best ever for you.

    I have a hard time remembering all the great days before Harvey Road was born in 2008. When Zelda and I skied primarily backcountry, cameras weren’t standard equipment. Three random comments:

    • Love the Telegirl on MJ.
    • Really appreciate you showing me the ropes at the press event at Belleayre.
    • No doubt Quebec is an underexposed gem. I suppose it’s about the distance.

    You’ve posted a ton of interesting, diverse, fresh content this season.

  2. Likewise, a thanks to Harv for providing a forum for my unsolicited, often objectionable opinions.
    🙂

    We’re all looking forward to NYSB 2010-11. I suppose, like most people, my best-ever days are correlated to deep, untracked snow, but my real favorites are powder days at undiscovered, off-the-beaten-track mountains that don’t come to mind as powder palaces. I subscribe to Woody Allen’s “I’d never want to be part of a club that has me as a member,” so I always get creeped out when I’m surrounded by powder-hungry hordes who are there for the same thing as me.

    I also include the people in my group as a part of the criteria, but probably less than you, as most of my skiing over the past ten years has been solo, and I’ve gotten used to it.

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